Mohammed Mehdi Akef, the Supreme Guide of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, has announced he is stepping down from his post and will not be running for a second term. Marc Lynch knows way more about this than I do, so check out his great post here.
The chief editor of the Daily News Egypt, and independent English language Egyptian newspaper affiliated with the International Herald Tribune, has published this op-ed about the problems Al-Ahram is facing with its journalists as a result of financial issues and censorship.
It is no secret that Al-Ahram is a mouth-piece for the Egyptian government but the newspaper’s censorship usually does not get this much attention, nor does it cause this much of an uproar. Salaama Ahmed Salaama’s reported defection from the newspaper to Al-Shurouq is certainly part of this as he is a big name in Egyptian media. And as the Daily News Egypt points out the issues of media coverage and especially Egyptian media during Israel’s offensive in Gaza has also exacerbated the issue.
“Q43-S79. Thinking about the following kinds of attacks on Americans, please tell me if you approve of them, disapprove of them, or have mixed feelings about them?
Attacks on US military troops in Afghanistan
Egypt 2008: 75% Strongly approve, 8 % somewhat approve, and less than 10% disapprove in any form.
On US military troops based in the Persian Gulf States:
Egypt 2008: 70% strongly approve. A total of 12% have mixed feelings or any form of disapproval.
On US military troops based in Iraq:
Egypt 2008: 75% strongly approve. Only 10% with mixed feelings or any form of disapproval.
On US Civilians in the US:
Egypt 2008: 8% approve in any form. 78% strongly disapprove.
In addition, from the Middle East Times:
Less obvious, but probably a logical consequence of wanting the withdrawal of U.S. forces, is the disturbing finding that very significant majorities approve of attacks on U.S. troops based in Iraq, the Gulf, and Afghanistan. Large majorities approve of attacks in Egypt (over 78 percent), the Palestinian territories (87 percent), and Jordan (66 percent). In Turkey and Pakistan views are more divided. However, only minorities in Indonesia and Azerbaijan would endorse such attacks.
US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan are technically occupation forces. So I can understand from that logic why, for example, and Iraqi might want to attack US forces because they occupy his or her country. However, why do Egyptians overwhelmingly support attacking US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan? In Iraq, maybe, they follow the logic of resistance an occupier as being legitimate and they see the war as illegal or illegitimate in the first place. But the US, along with a number of other countries, is also an invading force in Afghanistan, a campaign which enjoys much broader international support than does the Iraq one. Might this mean that Egyptians support the Taliban? Probably not, but then why is there such support for actively attacking US forces in Afghanistan? Furthermore, why the overwhelming support for attacking US forces in the Persian Gulf States. How do US forces in the Persian Gulf (or Afghanistan for that matter) effect Egyptians? I don’t think they really do, but I would wager that this is a result more of the general feelings expressed in other parts of the survey, such as the following as reported by the Middle East Times:
The third finding of the polls, which will come as little surprise to Americans familiar with the Middle East and the Islamic world, is the intense suspicion of U.S. goals in the region. Large majorities ranging from 62 percent in Indonesia to 87 percent in Egypt say they believe that the United States seeks “to weaken and divide the Islamic world.”
And what does this mean for President Obama? According to the Middle East Times:
So Obama’s new approach to the region faces an audience that is suspicious of the United States but likes the idea of democracy and opposes attacks on civilians. That’s not a hopeless place from which to start, even if such views have been obvious to most observers all along.
True, but as Marc Lynch often talks about, it is a much more complicated than that.
I have been neglecting this blog a bit and have been posting more on the Egypt Foreign Policy blog. If you really want to hear me rant you can check out the blog here.
Breaking front page news from Wednesday’s edition of the oldest Egyptian newspaper, Al-Ahram.
One of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s photographers fell and got a cut above his eyebrow; Mubarak rushed over to help him and called for backup. So happy to see the president’s “human side.”
So there has been some debate about the NYTimes article “Revolution, Facebook-style” which I posted about below and on the Foreign Policy Egypt Blog. Semi-Expert has taken issue with the article here for being what he calls “social pornography.” I am not about to criticize a Georgetown professor (I mean that respectfully-seriously), but I do agree that he is being a little harsh. I think he makes some interesting points about how articles like this paint Westerners’ perceptions of political and social issues in countries like Egypt, and he is not really incorrect in his criticisms but just maybe a little too critical.
The fact is that for the average New York Times reader, this is an informative piece touching upon a number of important political and social issues facing Egypt today. I think the positives here outweigh the issues Semi-Expert raises. And that fact that Ms. Shapiro does not speak Arabic to me is trivial, even if the “bint” issue was completely missed. While it would be nice if journalists were better linguists, being someone who does speak Arabic relatively well, I think it is unfair to discredit a whole article on this point.